Friday, April 23, 2010

It's a Girl for Amanda Peet!

Why didn't Amanda Peet appear on the Late Show With David Letterman Tuesday to promote her new indie Please Give?

She just gave birth!

The actress, 38, and her husband, screenwriter David Benioff, welcomed their second child, Molly June Benioff, in NYC Monday, her rep told

The two, who wed in 2006, have a daughter Frances, 3.


Coping with Pregnancy at Work

From hiding morning sickness to breaking the news to your boss, here's how to survive pregnancy on the job.

  • It's best to wait to share your pregnancy news until after your first trimester when your risk of miscarriage decreases.
  • To help keep your pregnancy a secret, move the buttons on your pants so you can wear your old clothes for longer.
  • Make sure your boss finds out first–and make it a formal meeting when you finally break the news.
  • Remember, you have the right to keep working during your pregnancy for as long as you are able to perform the essential duties of your job.
  • If you’re afraid of getting left out while on mat leave, get a coworker to copy you on important emails that you can check on your own time.

When it comes to telling your boss about your pregnancy, should you play the waiting game, or ’fess up right away?

Although some people believe you should break the news as soon as you know so your boss has more time to plan for your absence, others recommend waiting as long as possible so you don’t risk getting treated differently (or having responsibilities suddenly delegated elsewhere) just because you’re pregnant, says Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, author of The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book.

“Some women also prefer to wait until after the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage decreases,” she says. “And if you’re going for genetic testing, you may want to wait until you’re done with any tests that might have you choosing to terminate your pregnancy–it’s devastating enough without having to tell everyone about it.”

If you decide to keep your pregnancy a secret for a while, here are a few strategies to try:

  • Move the buttons on your pants, or invest in a Bella Band, so that you can continue wearing your old clothes for longer.
  • Sometimes your growing breast are a bigger giveaway than a tiny baby bump–good-fitting bras and blousy shirt styles can help camouflage both.
  • Sit by the door when you’re in meetings so if you have to leave abruptly (due to nausea or first trimester bladder issues), it’s not so conspicuous.
  • And every time you take a trip to the loo, have another reason for getting up from your desk, says Dr. Greenfield. “Drop something off on someone else’s desk, or use the photocopier so you’re not just beating a path back and forth to the bathroom.”

Whenever you decide the time has come to “go public” about your pregnancy, make sure you tell your boss first so she doesn’t hear about it through the office grapevine, says Dr. Greenfield. “It’s very unprofessional if she finds out from someone other than you.”

When it comes to how you approach your employer, Dr. Greenfield says it’s usually best to make it a formal process. “Sit down with your boss, tell her when you’re due and share any ideas you may have for how you’re going to get work covered when you have to be out of the office. It shows you’re thinking about it and is a sign you’re committed to your job.”

Pregnancy can affect women very differently, so it’s hard to know how you’re going to feel as your pregnancy progresses. In the first trimester, you may feel tired and nauseated as your hormones kick in. “Some women feel horrible first thing in the morning, while others crash around 3 p.m.,” Dr. Greenfield says. It helps to plan the bulk of your workload around times when you know you’ll be feeling your best.

“Another option is to book a vacation around the eight- or nine-week mark, when morning sickness symptoms tend to peak,” says Dr. Greenfield. Or, if your job is flexible, arrange to work from home for a few days so you can rest when you need to and still get your work done.

When it comes to juggling work and your medical appointments, try to book the first appointment of the day. “Doctors are more likely to run on time for their first appointments,” says Dr. Greenfield. It’s best to try to avoid midday appointments–they tend to be the most disruptive to your work schedule. And if you find yourself logging a lot of hours away from your desk, do your best to make the time up while you can.

Many women worry about whether going on maternity leave will impact their jobs. “A lot of women are so identified with their work that they think they’ll still want to be involved when they’re at home with their newborns,” says Dr. Greenfield. “And then they commit to a lot more contact with work than they ultimately want.”

She recommends keeping your expectations of how involved you will be as low as possible, just in case you suddenly realize you want to focus all your attention on your new baby. “Don’t make too many promises about calling in every day or answering emails–you just won’t know how things will be until after the baby arrives.”

However, you may still want to stay on top of what’s going on in your industry to make it easier when you do return to work after maternity leave. “If you don’t want to get too left out, get a coworker to copy you on important emails that you can check on your own time,” Dr. Greenfield says. She also recommends having one point person who manages all communication with you instead of having multiple people contacting you every day. Step up your involvement with work closer to your return date: it’s important to find out what’s been going on so you’re not overwhelmed your first days back, she says.

It’s important to know that you have the right to keep working during your pregnancy for as long as you are able to perform the essential duties of your job: You can’t be fired or demoted because you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant.


Multi-vitamin during pregnancy 'cuts chances of having an underweight baby'

Children who are underweight at birth are more likely to develop health problems including difficulty breathing and jaundice.

Experts believe that they could also be more likely to develop a number of major illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, in later life.

But new research suggests that taking a specially created supplement could cut the risk of having a small baby in half.

The multivitamin also improved the health of the pregnant women, the study found.

The research team called for larger studies to confirm their findings.

But they said that if these were consistent with their results many pregnant women could benefit from such supplements.

Dr Louise Brough, from Massey University in New Zealand, one of the co-authors of the study, said: “It is especially important to have good nutrient levels during early pregnancy as this is a critical time for development of the fetus.

“Nutrient deficiencies are correctable and they may influence birth outcomes.

“Of course a good diet during pregnancy is important for a healthy pregnancy, but for those who do not have a good diet, multivitamin and mineral supplements will help to reduce the risk of deficiency.”

At the start of the study almost three quarters of the women, 72 per cent, had low level of vitamin D, while 13 per cent were low in iron and 12 per cent were deficient in thiamin, also called vitamin B1.

Those who took the supplement achieved better levels of all three than a control group given a placebo, according to the findings, published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

They were also 50 per cent less likely to have a child with a low birth weight.

More than 400 newly pregnant women started the study, carried out by the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University and the Homerton University Hospital (in East London).

But there was a high dropout rate and only 149 completed the study.

Half were given a multivitamin, Pregnacare, made by Vitabiotics, while the other half were given a placebo.

The researchers tested the women for nutritional deficiencies at the start of the study, and then when they were 26 and 34 weeks pregnant.

Babies are considered to have a low birth weight if they weigh less than 2.5kg (5.5lb).


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Winter and autumn babies are more prone to food allergies

Babies born in autumn or winter are more likely to develop a food allergy than those born in spring or summer, US researchers have found.

The Boston scientists believe the trend may be explained by a lack of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D.

Vitamin D from natural sun exposure is needed for the healthy development of a child's immune system, experts believe.

And winter babies tend to get less sun, they explain in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reviewed all of 1,002 patients with food allergies who had been seen in three local hospital emergency departments over a period of six years.

They then compared the months of birth in patients with food allergy with those of patients visiting the emergency rooms for reasons other than food allergy.

From this a trend emerged - allergies appeared to be linked with season of birth, but only in the patients who were aged five or younger.

Of the children treated for allergy aged under five, 41% were born in spring or summer compared with 59% in autumn or winter.

The researchers acknowledge that other factors, such as infections, family history of allergies, maternal and infant dietary patterns, and exposure to indoor pollutants, may contribute to food allergies.

But they believe that vitamin D deficiency, and hence month of birth, "is a significant potential risk factor" in the development of food allergies.

Exposure to low vitamin D levels in the womb, immediately after birth and during early childhood may be key.

Previous studies have associated month of birth with other allergic conditions such as asthma, recurrent wheezing and dermatitis.

Dr Milo Vassallo, lead author of the study and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: "Vitamin D helps the body fight infection and suppresses its allergy cells.

"When the body is faced with a molecule of food it has to decide if it's a friend or a foe. Vitamin D contributes to tolerance but reduced levels of vitamin D triggers intolerance in the body," he said.

But the researchers stressed the findings did not mean parents should not attempt to boost their child's vitamin intake to ward off allergies.

A spokesperson for the charity Allergy UK said it was an interesting finding but more research needed to be carried out in this area.

She said: "It is unlikely that parents will change the month in which their children are born, but it might give some clues about possible links to the effects that sunlight / vitamin D has on the immune system."


Having a baby when you're over 40?

Lee Robinson wasn't all that excited about having a baby, It's not that she didn't want one, it's just that she and her husband, Claude, were happy with their busy lives in Thomson, Georgia, where she's a high school teacher and he's a caterer.
Life rolled merrily along until one day, at age 44, Robinson discovered to her great shock that she was pregnant. When not one but two pregnancy tests confirmed the news, she plastered herself to the internet to figure out how risky this pregnancy was for her and her baby.
What she found online wasn't comforting. A slew of statistics about the high risks of birth defects for the baby and pregnancy-related diseases for her scared the wits out of her.
"I'd be less than normal if I didn't think this was pretty severe, life-threatening stuff," Robinson says. "All kinds of things run through your mind."
These days, more women are finding themselves in Robinson's situation. The birth rate for women age 40-44 increased 4 percent in 2008 from 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Contrast that to the birth rate for women below age 40, which went down as much as 3 percent from 2007 to 2008.
"Whatever can go wrong goes wrong at an increased rate for a woman who is older starting pregnancy," says Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes.
So just how scary is it for a woman over 40 to have a baby? We asked physicians at the March of Dimes and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists to set the numbers out for us.
Higher risk of miscarriage
  • At age 20: 1 in 10 women
  • At age 35: 1 in 5 women
  • At age 40: 1 in 3 women
  • At age 45: 1 in 2 women
Noncancerous tumors called fibroids and endometriosis, the abnormal growth of the lining of a woman's uterus, can lead to a miscarriage.
Higher risk of any chromosomal disorder
  • At age 20: 1 in 526 births
  • At age 30: 1 in 385 births
  • At age 40: 1 in 66 births
  • At age 45: 1 in 21 births
Women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have. As a woman ages, her eggs also age.
Higher risk of Down syndrome
  • At age 25: 1 in 1,250 births
  • At age 30: 1 in 1,000 births
  • At age 35: 1 in 400 births
  • At age 40: 1 in 100 births
  • At age 45: 1 in 30 births
  • At age 49: 1 in 10 births
As a woman ages, the risk of delivering a baby with Down syndrome increases. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder often caused by an error in cell division. There are multiple types of Down syndrome, and the exact cause is not known.
Higher risk of gestational diabetes
  • At age 20: 22 in 1,000 women
  • At age 25: 36 in 1,000 women
  • At age 30: 51 in 1,000 women
  • At age 35: 67 in 1,000 women
  • At age 40: 84 in 1,000 women
Pregnancy stresses the body, requiring the pancreas to produce more insulin. In older women, having a baby can trigger diabetes during pregnancy.
Higher risk of preeclampsia
  • At age 20: 38 in 1,000 women
  • At age 25: 37 in 1,000 women
  • At age 30: 36 in 1,000 women
  • At age 35: 39 in 1,000 women
  • At age 40: 48 in 1,000 women
"Women as they get into their 40s may also have some hypertension already," Fleischman says. "And if they do, they have a higher risk of that being exacerbated during pregnancy."
Advantages of being an older mom
Working women who have children later in life are often able to spend more time with their families because they're in a better position to negotiate flexible schedules, according to research by Elizabeth Gregory, author of the book, "Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood," and director of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Houston.
"Women report that the clout they've established at work in the years before they have kids gives them a bargaining chip that they wouldn't have had" at an earlier stage of their career, Gregory says.
Plus, women who wait to have children make more money and are better able to provide for their families, according to Gregory's analysis of 2000 census data.
Gregory looked at women in their early 40s and found sizable salary differences based on when they'd had their children. She found that those who'd had babies in their mid-20s had salaries in the mid-$40,000 range, but those who waited to have babies until their mid- to late-30s had salaries that averaged in the $70,000 range.
The reason, she says, is simple. "Once kids arrive, it's much harder for women to continue to climb the career ladder, so if they start having babies earlier, they tend to get stuck down on the ladder," she says.
Last week, Robinson gave birth to a healthy boy named Price, and now she and her husband are thinking about having another child, even though she's 44 years old.
"It's really overwhelming to think I never thought I was going to be a mom," Robinson says. "We're both just absolutely in love with this little baby."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breast milk kills cancers claim scientists

In new evidence set to spark debate over whether breastfeeding is best, scientists have found breast milk provides a natural immunity boost for youngsters.

The same compound, Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells or HAMLET, could be a common cancer treatment for adults within five years.

Human trials have shown HAMLET can kill bladder cancer and laboratory tests have found it kills 40 different types of cancer.

But crucially, the chemical does not kill healthy cells which means it does not cause the nasty side effects of current chemotherapy treatments.

Assistant Professor Roger Karlsson, of the University of Gothenburg, said the discovery added to the debate over whether breast feeding or bottle feeding was best for babies.

"HAMLET is produced by combining alpha-lactalbumin in the milk and oleic acid which is found in babies' stomachs," he said.

"So breast feeding has been linked to actually reducing the risk of cancer in babies."

Prof Karlsson said tests had shown that HAMLET attacks the "power plant" of cancer cells.

"HAMLET also triggers some of the cell´s apoptotic pathways – apoptosis is programmed cell death," he said.

Human trials on male bladder cancers sufferers showed tumors were reduced without painful side effects within just five days of treatment.

Prof Karlsson said: "A pilot study of bladder cancer patients were injected with a HAMLET solution through a catheter.

"The solution killed cancer cells and the size of the tumors actually reduced within five days."

But Prof Karlsson said the treatment was limited because it had to be injected in the exact site of the cancer cells.

"It could also work if doctors were able to inject the solution into the vein which carries blood directly to the site of the cancer," he said.

A simple pill or liquid solution would just be "metabolized" by the body as normal food, he added.

Prof Karlsson said the treatment would be ideal as a complement to current chemotherapies.

He said scientists discovered the HAMLET by accident when they were investigating the health benefits of breast milk.

"They were actually looking for antibiotic powers in breast milk when they came across HAMLET and found in one of their tests that it killed cancer cells," he said.

The researchers are hoping to being human clinical trials as soon as possible.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vera Farmiga Expecting Second Child!

Vera Farmiga and her hubby, Renn Hawkey, are expecting their second child, In Touch reports.

The Up in the Air star was set to play the wife of actor Gerard Butler in the upcoming film Machine Gun Preacher, but had to drop out after discovering she was pregnant again. "She is three months pregnant and due in October," an insider says. "The role would have meant traveling to Africa this summer, but because her baby is due in the fall, she would have been too far along to make the trip."

Vera, 36, and her husband are already parents to 1-year-old son, Fynn.

Congratulations to the Farmiga-Hawkey family!


Six months pregnant woman finishes Boston Marathon in 4:21

For more than four hours Monday, Urbandale's Leah Newman bounded along the streets of Boston as she mulled over possible names for her next son.

The pondering proved more than hypothetical. After all, her son was along for the ride.

Newman, 35, finished the Boston Marathon while six months pregnant.

"I spent 26 miles trying to find the name for this boy," she said. "I didn't come up with much, but I was trying."

Newman, the sister-in-law of Des Moines Hoover alum and 2009 Masters golf participant Jack Newman, gained permission from her doctor to run — but understands the decision to complete distance running’s most storied event could create debate.

So did the mom-to-be think it was safe?

"That’s a really good question," she said. "It’s not safe for the average person who doesn’t run. To train for this, you need to make sure your heart rate is under 130. You need to wear a heart monitor and stay hydrated.

"As long as you listen to your body and nothing hurts, you’ll be fine. But it’s a real concern for most people."

Dr. Neil Mandsager, an obstetrician from Des Moines who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, said running at that point of impending motherhood is debatable in the medical field.

“The consensus opinion is that exercise during pregnancy is by and large safe,” Mandsager said. “However, we’re talking about exercise in moderation — like going to the gym three times per week or walking a mile or so three times a week.

“There’s some debate about whether extreme exercise — like marathon running or training — should be considered safe during pregnancy.”

“There’s some limited research about the small, increased risk of miscarriage and possibly smaller birth weight, etc., but that information is not definitive,” he said. “By and large, most obstetricians would not encourage that extreme level of exercise at that stage of pregnancy. If she were my patient, I probably would not advise continuing to that degree. I’m very much in favor of pregnant women exercising, but that’s probably taking some chances I wouldn’t consider necessary.”

Des Moines Marathon director Chris Burch said he’s heard of women running into the eighth and ninth month of pregnancy.

“It just depends on who their doctor is,” said Burch, who is leading the Des Moines event for the sixth time.

Newman qualified in late 2005 for the 2006 Boston race, but found out she was pregnant with her and husband Andy’s first son, Logan. In 2006, she made the cut for the 2007 race — but pulled out because of her pregnancy with son, Levi.

A trend developed: Qualify for the Boston Marathon, find out you’re pregnant.

“Yeah, that’s the family joke,” she said.

This time, family members had purchased flights and tickets — so Newman decided to stay the course.

As Newman ambled across the finish line Monday, the clock showed that she finished in 4 hours, 21 minutes.

“If I hadn’t wasted 20 minutes going to the bathroom every mile, it would have been better,” said Newman, with a chuckle.

Newman said her son will be able to tell people he ran the Boston Marathon, too.

“Absolutely, the baby gets credit,” she said. “I asked, ‘Do I get a double medal?’ I think he gets more credit than I do, actually.”


In Effort to Limit C-Sections, a Look at Two Hospitals

This is a tale of two hospitals.

One has the highest rate of Cesarean sections in the city, the other the fourth lowest. They represent some of the city's obstetric extremes, yet they sit just five miles apart on Staten Island, serving similar populations.

So what accounts for the difference?

In large part, determination, which Dr. Mitchell A. Maiman, the chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at one of the two, Staten Island University Hospital, has in ample supply. As New York City’s C-section rate has soared in recent years — by 36 percent, between 2000 and 2007, according to the New York State Department of Health — Dr. Maiman has kept his hospital’s rate around 23 percent of all births.

In 2008, according to numbers released by Choices in Childbirth, an advocacy group for pregnant women, working with state statistics, Staten Island University Hospital’s rate went down, while the rate at the other hospital, Richmond University Medical Center, went up again, to 48.3 percent. That made it, for the fifth consecutive year, the hospital with the highest C-section rate in the city. (The National Center for Health Statistics reported that the Cesarean rate reached 32 percent in 2007.)

Cesarean births are generally considered more prone to complications than natural births, so most hospitals at least pay lip service to their devotion to reducing them. But very few have pulled it off. What seems to have made the difference for Dr. Maiman’s department is building that goal into policy, even when it is unpopular with doctors — even, sometimes, when it may be unpopular with patients.

To start, Dr. Maiman and his colleagues do not allow unnecessary inductions for first-time pregnancies at any point before the 41st week, since they are a main cause of C-sections. They also do not allow C-sections for no reason other than the mother wants one.

C-sections are thought to be relatively lawsuit-proof, and they also let everyone go home on time. But such conveniences do not inform Dr. Maiman’s thinking. “You have to draw the line somewhere,” he said in an interview. “If you went to your doctor and said, ‘I want my gall bladder taken out electively,’ your doctor wouldn’t do that, probably.”

Mother-demanded C-sections are unusual enough that the policy is probably more useful to Dr. Maiman for the message it sends to doctors and patients, a clear sign that he values a non-interventionist policy as long as it is safe. It has become common for hospitals to prohibit what are known as VBACs (for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, pronounced VEE-back) for reasons having to do with anesthesia availability and, more tacitly, a fear of lawsuits. Dr. Maiman actively encourages VBACs. Residents are trained not only to avoid unnecessary C-sections, but to let higher-ups know if they witness another doctor about to perform one.

Obstetricians with high Cesarean rates, Dr. Maiman said, invite scrutiny; doctors either come to see things his way or end up leaving the hospital.

“If a woman has a third or a fourth Cesarean, the maternal morbidity and mortality is astronomically higher,” Dr. Maiman said. “That’s when you see women dying in childbirth from obstetrical hemorrhage.”

Whether or not you like his policy — maybe you believe a mother’s choice should extend to controlling the hour of her delivery and how much it will hurt — you have to give Dr. Maiman credit for not just creating protocols to protect women’s health, but enforcing them. There is not a lot of incentive for hospitals to let conviction trump convenience, especially when convenience comes with the added bonus of lower legal risk.

Dr. Michael L. Moretti, the chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Richmond University Medical Center, attributed the high rate of C-sections at his hospital to the reputation of its perinatal care center, which he said attracts women with high-risk pregnancies who are more likely to require surgically assisted births.

Dr. Moretti said he and his colleagues were trying to reduce C-sections with peer review of one another’s procedures. Women requesting C-sections are now required to meet with Dr. Moretti to discuss the risks. “What we find is that about half who come in requesting a C-section will change their mind,” he said, “so that’s helped a lot.”

Five miles away, Dr. Adi Davidov, one of Dr. Maiman’s colleagues, described similar conversations — but better results. “I find that most of the time, if you explain to a mother you’ll recover faster, it’s safer,” he said, “then most women will choose a vaginal delivery.”


Monday, April 19, 2010

Isla Fisher is Pregnant!

Looks like Isla Fisher and husband Sacha Baron Cohen are expecting again.

On Sunday, she stepped out in West Hollywood with a baby bump.

She has yet to announce any pregnancy news - and might not for some time.

Fisher, 34, and Cohen, 38, are notoriously hush-hush about their private lives.

They didn't immediately confirm their first daughter Olive's 2007 birth. They also very quietly wed in a traditional Jewish ceremony in Paris March 15. "It was the absolute best day of my life," Fisher wrote in an email to friends the following day.

What's it like being wed to a man known for outlandish characters like Bruno and Borat.

"Sasha makes me laugh more than anyone," Fisher told a British newspaper in 2005.


Mother becomes first in world to give birth to twins after heart transplant

An American woman has become the first in the world to give birth to twins just months after having a heart transplant.
Stefania DeMayo was still recovering from her operation when she unexpectedly fell pregnant.
Doctors warned the 29-year-old having a baby so soon after major life-saving surgery would put her in serious danger again.
But, despite the fears, twins Melania and Natalia were born prematurely in December weighing 4lbs 2oz and 2lbs 13oz.
Only a handful of women have ever given birth after a heart transplant, and until now, never to twins.
Stefania was suffering from a rare condition called restrictive cardiomyopathy, which may have begun with a simple tooth infection.
In late 2008, after three years of suffering, Stefania was finally offered a heart that fit her rare blood type.
The heart was from a 14-year-old boy, Sean Clegg, who had been killed by a car while riding his bike.
Stefania was rushed to the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and the heart was implanted successfully.
'Before I had the transplant my life was hardly worth living but a few days later I felt amazing,' she said.
'At first I felt my heart beating so strongly in my chest I thought there was something wrong.
Stefania was allowed home with the warning against getting pregnant for at least a year.
But by chance she found she was expecting only a few months after the operation - with twins.
After breaking the news to her doctors, the couple were told their babies had a 90 per cent chance of being diagnosed with Downs Syndrome.
They faced weeks of uncertainty before a pre-natal test showed the girls did not have the condition.
A few weeks later, a scan revealed the girls had twin to twin transfusion syndrome, where one baby takes most of the nourishment in the womb.
The couple were told there was a large chance the smaller baby would die in the womb, turn toxic and kill the larger child.
'They thought both babies would die or I would have to abort the smaller baby to save the other,' said Stefania.
At just 20 weeks she started experiencing labor pains and was rushed to hospital but luckily the babies stayed in the womb.
'Thank God the babies held on,' said Stefania who almost went into labor again at 25 weeks.
Stefania was put on total bed rest for the final weeks of her pregnancy to help the girls stay inside her. Then at 31 weeks disaster struck again.
'I was very low on amniotic fluid and I was rushed to hospital yet again,' said Stefania. She finally gave birth by emergency cesarean section at 32 weeks.
'There was about 50 medical experts in the room for the birth,' she said.
The battle was not over for the smaller baby who had to undergo surgery for a rotated bowel. Doctors also had to remove her appendix.
'She was only 2lbs 13oz when they operated on her but she pulled through because she is a little fighter,' said Stefania.
Now both girls are finally at home with their mother, who recovered well after the birth.
Stefania said: 'Thanks to Sean Clegg, who gave me his heart, there are now three people living that wouldn't be here without him.'
The family went to meet the donor Sean's mother Gail, to thank her.
'She is the most wonderful kind and generous person,' said Stefania. 'I could not be more grateful for what they have done for us. Gail is like a grandmother to the twins.'
'I think of Stefania, Richard and the twins as part of the family now,' said Gail, 44, who lives in Tabernacle, New Jersey.
Gail and Stefania now want to raise awareness about the importance of carrying a donor card.
Cardiologist Dr David Baran said: 'Stefania had taken well to her new heart but we didn't know what the effect of pregnancy might be.
'It's a tremendous strain to have one child, with two, it makes the heart work even harder.
'It is a wonderful feeling to be part of the team which made this miracle possible.'

Smoking while pregnant increases risk of 'cross eyes' and reduced fertility in baby

Smoking while pregnant increases the chance of eye problems and low fertility counts in babies, according to two separate scientific studies.

Dr. Tobias Torp-Pedersen and his team of researchers at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark found that smoking while pregnant increased the risk of strabismus, a condition in which the eyes are unable to align evenly.

Dr. Torp-Pedersen said that little is known about the origin of the condition, but theorized that chemical disturbance could yield degeneration in the eye muscles and nerves. “Nicotine and other substances in tobacco, alcohol and caffeine all affect the brain in some way,” said Dr. Torp-Pedersen. “Minor disturbances to the developing brain could plausibly lead to strabismus.”

The team reviewed 1,300 cases of strabismus in children born between 1996 and 2003 using data from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Included in the data were interviews with the children’s mothers during and after pregnancy.

“We were able to show that each extra cigarette smoked per day during pregnancy exerted a 5 percent increase in strabismus risk, which is a new finding,” Torp-Pedersen told Reuters Health.

In a second, unrelated study, Professor Richard Sharpe of the Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh performed a comprehensive review of numerous medical studies on the effects chemicals and obesity have on the sperm production of male babies.

Sharpe found that a mother’s smoking habits while pregnant had much more of an impact on a male’s sperm production than cigarette exposure outside the womb, later in life. He theorizes that the risk is greater in the womb because toxins in the blood stream reduces the number of sertoli cells, highly specialized cells needed to support the growth of young sperm all the way through to a man’s adult life.

Sharpe was skeptical, however, about how much any individual chemical in the womb contributes to poor sperm development. He did suggest that large “cocktails” of a variety of chemicals may have a combined effect, but more research was required he said.

Dr. Allan Pacey, a Sheffield University expert in male fertility, told the Daily Mail: “This review reminds us that the sperm production capacity of men is probably established quite early in life and perhaps even before they are born. This highlights the importance of women having healthy pregnancies and not exposing their baby to harmful chemicals, such as cigarette smoke.”

Dr. Torp-Pedersen’s research appears in the March issue of American Journal of Epidemiology, while Professor Sharpe’s work appears in the upcoming May 27 issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.